|The descendants survey their past. (Copyright Fox Searchlight Pictures.)|
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
|(Not a Hollywood backlot.)|
Northern Exposure is my favorite TV show. I feel that in starting these reviews, I should be up front about that. I recognize that many other series might be “better” (The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, etc.), or more influential (Hill Street Blues, Taxi, The Simpsons, etc.), or more daring (Twin Peaks, Community), and there are even some shows that at times elicited from me a more intense personal reaction (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Wonder Years), but in my experience no show was as formative, exploratory, literary, and earnest as the one that ostensibly started as a fish-out-of-water tale of a young doctor from New York City being forced to serve out a contract in a fictional small town in rural Alaska – on its surface, not something I can exactly relate to. The series had its missteps, including changes in the later seasons when David Chase was a producer, but it still has much to offer. In watching the series again, there were moments that still made me cheer, and moments that made me cry from sheer beauty.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
In honor / apropos / opportunistically of the new Blu-ray release of Blue Velvet and its special features (which Noel Murray wrote a stellar review of at The A.V. Club), I thought I'd post something I wrote quite a while ago for a critical studies class. It's a breakdown of the opening of the film - specifically, how it reflects two different Soviet montage theories.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Like Crazy stars Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin as Anna and Jacob, two college students in Los Angeles who fall in love and, at the last moment, decide to ignore the looming expiration of Anna’s student visa. When she doesn’t return to England as preconditioned, the consequences affect their relationship and this provides the focus of the movie. This set-up at times invites a reaction similar to what one might have throughout a horror picture: “No, don’t do that!” When these seemingly intelligent college graduates try to bypass something as complicated as international law in order to stay together longer, for a relationship that – while passionate and heartfelt – lacks in experience, it’s difficult to fully root for them being together. As such, the movie feels a little predetermined, though not exactly slight.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Martha Marcy May Marlene, the powerful feature debut of writer and director Sean Durkin, starring newcomer Elizabeth Olsen in the title role(s), is one of those films that seemingly comes out of nowhere and then is hard to shake for a while after. Its story and style are so unique and at first unfamiliar – it doesn't fit neatly into a particular genre – that it might not connect if not for the assured, nuanced hand of Durkin (who won Best Director in the Dramatic Competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival), and the fully realized performance of Olsen in a demanding and complicated role.